St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Wednesday, December 29, 2021 The Holy Innocents
The Holy InnocentsMatthew 2:13-18
After the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt and stay there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.
This was to fulfill the what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son”
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.
Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
This storyThis commemoration isn’t even “in order,” so to speak. We haven’t even gotten to the coming of the wise men yet. That doesn’t happen until Epiphany, January 6, the end of Christmas’ twelve days.So once again we have an odd Christmas remembrance: Stephen, the first martyr, then John the beloved disciple, and now the murdered children of Bethlehem.But why?Those children had no choice. And yet they died as a brutal act of political revenge. Children are always the first and saddest victims of war and conflict, and the hatred and fear of political powers. Remember the children of the holocaust, or Vietnam, or the Syria or Afghanistan, or on our borders.It is important to remember that Christmas looks peaceful in our creche scenes, but it was not a peaceful time in the world. Jesus was born in a place of oppression and lived his whole life under Roman occupation.This is the world into which Jesus comes as Light. And peace. And God’s preferential option for the poor. We must never, ever forget that.
The CollectWe remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love and peace…